Rafa Benitez is now gone and Everton are moving forward in the near future with former player Duncan Ferguson once again assuming the caretaker role as the club tries to get its house in order. The Toffees sit in sixteenth place, just six points clear of the drop zone and there is not much time to get things back on track performance-wise.
When asked what he felt when asked to take over the team, even on an interim basis, Ferguson was as passionate as could be expected.
“I was very honoured of course. The club have turned to me again through this difficult time as we’ve lost our manager. I was absolutely over the moon they turned to me.
“It has been a long love affair, hasn’t it? Everybody knows how I feel about the club, I’ve been here a long time, since I was a young man. I came down here when I was 22 I think it was, and I’m 50 now, so it’s been a long, long time.
“Of course, the relationship with the fans is key for me, they know how much I love them.”
The former striker was asked if he’s had a lot of conversations with the club’s leadership.
“Not a huge amount obviously, I’ve got to make sure I’m looking after the training and everything, but I spoke to them and they have been very supportive. We are all willing for us to get a result on Saturday.
“The Chairman talked about unity, and the Everton way, and getting our fight and spirit back. He is very passionate, a great Everton man.
“It’s all been about unity and getting our fight back.”
Unity has been a theme at the club since the departure of Benitez.
“We need everybody in our corner. As we all know it’s been a difficult time, the results have not been great - they’ve been pretty poor to be honest - so yeah, we have to make sure we are all together; everybody at Finch Farm, everybody at the stadium and everybody in the city, they need to get behind us and I’m sure they will.
“We should always be doing our best for Everton, shouldn’t we? We are Evertonians, we love our club and fight as hard as we can for it.”
The fans really fed into Ferguson’s energy the last time he was in charge, and the caretaker manager wants the same again for Saturday’s early fixture against Aston Villa.
“It happened before, a couple of years ago I think, it was an electric atmosphere, one of the best I’ve experienced at Goodison, and I am sure they [supporters] will be well, well up for it this weekend.
“We really need them to push us across the line for the whole game. I can’t emphasise enough how important they are for the 90 minutes and I know they will be with us.
“That support lifts you and gives you confidence. We are all going to make mistakes, that happens in football.
“They really need to stay with the players and keep going for 90 minutes because it will be an incredibly tough game and everybody in that stadium needs to keep going to the final whistle, then, hopefully, we will get the right result.”
Aside from the very experienced John Ebbrell and Alan Kelly, Ferguson is being assisted by Leighton Baines who just hung up his playing boots very recently.
“Leighton is a great fella, an unbelievable player and a legend of the Club, a very intelligent man.
“He is just starting his coaching journey but I have noticed in the past two days how far he has come. He really is a good coach and getting better and better.
“He will go onto great things in the future and I am absolutely delighted he is going to be sitting next to me. Leighton gave his life to the club, so I am absolutely delighted he’s here, he’s meant a lot to me as a member of my staff.”
How have the players reacted to him, and what is he doing differently in training to spark the club out of its current malaise that has seen Everton record one league win in the last thirteen games.
“The players have always worked hard – but I am pushing them as hard as I possibly can, then they will feel great coming off the training pitch, as we all do when we put in a good day’s work.
“They are upbeat sessions, with hard work and clear and simple messages. I am getting among the players and telling a few home truths because the past has not been good enough.
“But it is in the past. We move forwards, the game is coming and let’s get ready for it. They should give everything, they should run themselves into the ground, they should roll up their sleeves and fight for the Club in every single game.
“Imagine if you asked a fan to put a shirt on and get on the pitch, what would they do? We need to be doing that. I have to improve the tempo and aggression of the team, keep chipping away at the players about how important it is to get the victories.
“The result, of course, is massively important, but we need an improvement [in performance]. I have confidence in the players and the team and think they can win every game and that will be no different on Saturday. We have a lot of great players in there and they will step up, I am sure.”
Regarding his own future and if he saw himself taking over full time, Big Dunc insisted again that he was a stopgap and that there were better managers than himself that should lead the club, and he was in charge only temporarily.
“That is absolutely right. That is my brief. I’ll only be in charge for the upcoming games.
“The Club are in a process of going through their candidates. They will go through that process and I am sure they will find the right man for the job.”
What was his message for Evertonians ahead of the Saturday game -